Monday, February 1, 2016

Different Perspectives: What Worked / Didn't Work This Year

To wrap up the year, we asked some of the EC writing team to share some of the things that worked for them this season and the things that they'll be passing on in the future.


Sue Aquila
What worked:
  • Camp: I had a great experience training with other team members and pros. I learned how to continue to refine my training and increase the depth. Focusing for a week allows me to remove the balance and go to the extreme. I had to learn how to adapt to training, nutrition, planning and competing. The fitness bounce after these weeks was addictive.
  • Bobby McGee: I went to him to fix my running. I left him realizing that I run well. Very well. He made me understand that I was capable of great things. Confidence in your ability is an incredible gift.
  • Having a long term relationship with my coach (Gordo): Each year he refines my training based on our past work together and continues to elevate the work and the adaptation. It is a methodical and fruitful process.

What didn't work:

  • Altitude: As Chuckie V mentioned while I was huffing and puffing to Ward, I am a high responder. I really need three weeks at altitude to get the full benefit. I really struggled sleeping at altitude and was exhausted by the end of the week. I had a much better training week in Tucson because I could sleep at night.
  • My bike: After five years, I rode my beginner triathlon bike into the ground. I had no idea during my final race of the season that I had worn out the headset (luckily it had no impact on my race). As I have improved, so must my equipment.
  • My booty: Or lack thereof. It has become apparent especially after the good hearted ribbing from the Tucson camp, that in order to improve, this baby "needs back." Weight room focus time!


Russ Cox
What worked:
Cycling: I raised my game on the bike this year despite more limited training time than in the past. The emphasis has been more intensity and less volume. Each week I would aim for a couple of intensive bike sessions, often juggling the schedule so I could perform my best. Long rides on the other hand were far more limited, most weeks no longer than four hours, but I used several training camps and big weeks for an occasional volume boost over the season. The mix worked well for me and I saw consistent improvements throughout the year.

What didn't work:
Where to begin...

  • With my focus elsewhere and limited training time I neglected everything other than cycling. The results were unsurprising. My motivation strongly relates to how fit I am; when training is going well I want more, but when it isn't I lack discipline. I have slowly learned that better time management and a willingness to compromise on how much I do each week allows me to better balance training.
  • Racing is not a route that helps you recover from injury. I raced badly this year. I never allowed the length of time needed to rebuild the run fitness lost to injury early in the season, with hindsight I should have given myself the chance to build back up; an occasional ironman marathon is a major interruption to development of run fitness. I have come to appreciate just how significant my run fitness has been for previous successful performances.
  • Big training camps are fun, but you can do too much. The third trip was the one that cracked me, seven days drilling myself in the Alps didn't leave much for the rest of the season. Two races remained and neither went to plan.


Bob Albright, D.O.
What worked:

  • The Colorado Climbing Camp! I met a bunch of great guys, saw some amazing sights and pushed myself into pretty reasonable bike shape. This year, the timing was spot on for my Pigman half-ironman PR.
  • Taking a really relaxed spring. I was really ready to train in August and did not run out of mojo by late summer.
  • Balancing husbadad, drone in sector seven and training seemed to be about right in 2011!

What didn’t work:
ME!

  • It is non-negotiable that a certain modest volume is needed to pull off a marathon after a brisk swim and longish ride. "Ironman base" only gets you so far...
  • Trying to go light with the bottle set-up on my tri bike. I got rid of the rear setup and tried to make it through on the bottle in the jersey and bayonet plus a downtube bottle (vintage P3 SL). This was insufficient for the IM, as the on-course Perform tasted quite a bit more nasty than the powdered form (of Perform!) I had gotten sorta-used-to during training.
  • Going low on the front end. I see that I went too low and kiboshed power in search of the aero prize.


Mike Coughlin
2011 was a very different year for me since I had arranged my life circumstances to dedicate myself entirely to the singular goal of a true best-effort performance at the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii. Happily, I can report that much more worked than didn’t work this year.

What worked:
Reducing life stress by taking on less and living more simply had a profound effect on my health and consistency. Being patient and holding back in training (which I did for 80% of the year) allowed me to push myself when it mattered most. Living and training at altitude (Boulder and the High Rockies in the summer, Mt. Lemmon in the fall) worked well for me, although extra patience and care was required to acclimate each time I moved higher. Using open water swim events and long running races in my training helped with motivation and support.

What didn’t work:
I did almost all my training solo. While this allowed me to execute my training as designed for me, I could have used a push during a number of key sessions through the year. I also had such a laser-focus on executing my sessions to the letter that I didn’t recognize other training opportunities, and in some cases, risks. Some roads are simply not meant to be ridden in the aerobars whether it is your right of way or not, and I almost paid for that lesson with my life.


Mimi Winsberg, M.D.
What worked:
I started the year a bit slowly: I enjoyed a fantastic ski season and didn't worry about logging that much volume until late spring. This left me enough mojo for a big fall racing season. I also established a basic week early in the year that I was able to maintain consistently.

What didn’t work:
I saved my biggest volume for late summer when I was in Tahoe with more time to train and pushed myself slightly over the edge with three hard sequential weeks of training, meaning that I was sick and run down the week before Vegas 70.3. Scheduled recovery is better than forced recovery.


Larry Creswell, M.D.
What worked:
I did a quick turn-around second attempt at a stand-alone marathon. Having had difficulty with GI issues and DNFing at the Marine Corps Marathon in October, I regrouped and had a successful day at the Philadelphia Marathon three weeks later. It made for a satisfying redemption by taking that second (originally unplanned) shot.



Gordo Byrn
The most important thing I learned as an athlete is I can still go pretty darn quick over the 70.3 distance on far less volume than when I was racing elite. My cycling, in particular, has responded to my one-big-week-per-month protocol. My triathlon running has slowed a little but that's due to my run load being a third of what I did as an elite.

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